By Sarah Labossiere, 1/20/24
I love pedal power of all kinds; road bikes, mountain bikes, three-wheeled adult trikes, recumbents, balance bikes for kids, and even (gasp!) e-bikes with pedal assist! As an independent cyclist who often rides alone, I began to worry that my neglect of bike maintenance might bite me in the rear tire and leave me flat-tubed and without a clue. So, I began learning to repair bikes by necessity, and quickly realized I need a lot of help!
It turns out that bike maintenance and repair is not as complicated as I had thought, however, it also turns out that I am not as quick on the uptake as I had hoped;) I have always found that I learn best by attempting to teach someone else. So, I turned to my friends at Bike/Walk Fall River and suggested we start repairing bikes as a group. I figured we could learn from each other, teach what we know, and laugh about the rest. We gave it a go, and have been rolling along for almost two years now – using our powers for good, and having fun:)
This post may, or may not, develop into a series of adventures, mistakes and (hopefully!) positive learning curves that you can use for your own education – or at least for a laugh or two;) My all-aluminum guarantee is that I have only the best of intentions, and they are fueled by curiosity, a can-do spirit and my well developed penny-pinching prowess.
My primary goal in documenting these efforts is to curate (and create?) a library of simple videos that show basic bike repairs, slowly, and step-by-step. I hope this blog will help enthusiastic newbies like myself gain confidence and give it a go- getting your bike (safely) back on its wheels is a great ego boost, and a frugal activity to boot!
To begin, I first turned to YouTube of course. I found M.A.N.Y. how-to videos and quickly became overwhelmed with the lingo, level of expertise, and the variability in video skills and teaching methods :/ So, I took a breath and turned to TREK. The technicians and staff at TREK Lakeville (https://www.trekbikes.com/us/
The video I settled on for this initial blog post was created by TREK Bicycle and is titled: “How To: Clean and Lube Your Bike Chain” ( https://youtu.be/Zztm9Ei3E4I?
I like how the “man in a beard wearing flannel” starts out by sharing the importance of maintaining your chain, and describes specific details about necessary products without pushing a particular brand on the viewer. He also demonstrates how to use a chain cleaner tool that can simplify the process, but also shows everyday alternatives (an old toothbrush!) that works well for the task at hand.
Another technique the bearded host uses that helps a lazy skeptic like myself, is to explain why a simple extra step is important. For instance, he says soapy water and a rinse will “make sure all of the degreaser is cleaned off, so the fresh lube will fully stick to the chain”. Good to know, because I am cheap as well as lazy, and I don’t want to waste lube and cost myself more money and time in the long run!
The explanation of the difference between wet and dry lube was also useful, because if you’re like me, you prefer to walk into the bike shop with a specific product in mind – if you watch the video, you won’t have to be a “lube nube” either! Beard Man ends his vid with encouragement that these steps can be followed on any type of bike, and the frequency of cleaning is best determined by how often and in what conditions you ride.
If you are looking for more support on the topic of chain or drive train care, subscribe to the TREK YouTube channel, go to www.trekbikes.com, or just get yourself over to their Lakeville shop (only 25 min by car from downtown FR!)
Don’t have the time or space to haul your ride to a brick and mortar right now? I recommend making an appointment with one of the mobile bike repair businesses that will travel to you and can fix your bike while you watch or wait! Artemis Cyclery (www.artemiscyclery.com) will meet you in Fall River or any other location in Bristol or Plymouth County:) #Artemiscyclery offers bike repair services and a pop-up shop, and sports a splashy social media and web presence. You can find them on FB, IG or by cell: 774.202.9039.
On the Spot Bike (https://onthespotbike.com/) is another mobile bike repair shop that services the area from Westport to Mattapoisett. Their prices are reasonable and if you have any old bikes kicking around, they offer to take them off your hands and out of the landfill. They can repair and donate them to charity or use as practice bikes for repair clinics. On the Spot has a page on FB and can be reached at 774.301.1209.
Keep an eye out for the next post from your friendly NAIBR – aka me, and follow “Novice Adventures in Bike Repair” for more maintenance and repair tips to get you ready to ride!